I love fashion but I hate you.

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the fat man.

October 9. A Thursday. Went to talk to Simon today, the fat man. He said the truck was still 75,000 but he could come down on giving a ride. I said I could get 10,000 and the rest after the trip. He laughed and said how could he trust me? I showed him my bag, with the fruits inside. His eyes widened and he looked up and smiled and asked for the bag. I said I could not give him the bag, as it was what I needed to get to over the border in the first place. He smiled again and took out his rusty machete, a tool from his younger days leading the High Town Boys, from behind his desk and asked for the bag again. I said no again. He wondered why I would risk my life for some fruit. I explained my situation, about the wedding and the tree and the fruit and my daughter. I said that even with his machete he was too fat to fight me. He smiled again but this time he coughed while beckoning for me to come closer. I left.

 

Image via the Sartorialist.

 

interview: Jian DeLeon.

A few weeks back I internet met Jian DeLeon of Complex mag. Complex, for those of you like me who grew up before vagina pics adorned t-shirts, is a streetwear/menswear/music/culture/lifestyle thingy the likes of which was unforeseen by Judeo-Christian prophets. I met him through a forum (no homo) and badgered him into answering questions. “Peep” it.

 

Who are you and why should we care?

I’m Jian, I write about clothes, and you shouldn’t care, but it’s weird that people do.

How did you get into your line of work?

I worked for free for years until I fooled people into paying me for it. Also, sleeping with a lot of people might help. Maybe.

You had an article recently critical of the way Tumblr has influenced men’s fashion. What’s the big takeaway there?

Essentially the way Internet clothing culture has come to a point where it’s a dick-measuring contest of sorts, and dressing well is now held with some sort of reverence like it’s a talent, when it should just be appreciated for what it is. “Personal” style should be that, it should reflect your taste and interest, not whatever blogs you read.

In the article you also mention, ” Clothing simply can’t be compelling unless it stands for something else.”.  What did you mean by that?

Clothes alone don’t evoke emotion, and if they do, you’re extremely shallow. No one has been brought to tears over the perfect drape or an expertly tailored garment, clothes that have a story—grandpa’s old overcoat, a t-shirt from the band you first liked in college, a motorcycle jacket that reminds you of Marlon Brando from *The Wild One*—they are more than just fabric, they’re a tactile representation of certain memories or values.

How do you think dudes can stop the madness and get back to the business of being stylish?
Buy and wear stuff that you like and speaks to you, not because it’s ”trendy.”

Describe your personal style.
Nerd rebellion.

What makes a dude stylish?
Confidence.

Who are your style icons?
My friends all dress pretty dope. Other than that I don’t have “icons,” I just appreciate guys who know what works for them, but I don’t try to copy anything.

Your favorite virtue.
Realness.

Your idea of happiness.
Chief Keef’s “Love Sosa”.

Your idea of misery.
Zara.

How you wish to die.
Doing something awesome, like testing out a jetpack.

Your motto.
Everybody calm the fuck down, I got this.

What is your present state of mind.
Jet lagged.

Your favorite prose authors.
Right now? William Gibson. Re-reading Pattern Recognition.

Your chief characteristic.
Brevity.

Your favorite qualities in a man/woman.
Not a dickhead.

 

 

Well said.

interview: Monsieur Jerome

My relationship with M. Jerome started, like most adventures that have changed the world, on the internet. I liked him on The Facebook, and he liked me, and we eventually did a thing. People throw around the “he’s a nice guy” honorific like Pollack does paint but in Jerome’s case it is really true. Nice guy. I picked his brain a bit. Check his work at Monsieur Jerome. 

On getting started.

At 14, one friend gave me his old camera. I tried and enjoyed it as a hobby for a long time until I realized people’s reactions to my pictures. I was really intrigued. Then, few years later, another friend, after seeing my first website, hired me for his company. Since I didn’t go to a photography school, I always assumed it was an accident… until I got another contract, then another, ending up working for magazines.

On what makes a good subject.

Probably the challenge. I love people that are different, who challenging codes, new habits. Fashion to me is all about movement and going forward. Whatever your style, from classic to conceptual, I’m looking for people able to embrace new conventions.

On his photography style.

I can’t tell. I try to be the more informative and flattering as possible.

On his personal style.

In one word? I would say boring. More seriously, I’m a pretty classic guy. I’ve mostly obsessions: brogues, peacoat, scout jackets, plaid, polka dots.

On the style of street photographers.

Yes and no. Yes because they need to have a certain style and message about who they are. But personally, I don’t really care. I photograph people that are the opposite of my style. I feel closer to them by sharing the same passion for fashion not just being well dressed.

On the most important gear to have.

Your eye! No matter what kind of equipment you’ve, if you don’t have a good eye, you won’t able to get good pictures. That’s the trick.

On making it.

If you consider the business side, I’m far from it. The magazine and fashion industries don’t consider bloggers like equals. There is maybe a misconception about their importance and the success that some of us got. But, for obvious reasons so it’s a bit schizophrenic. They just need to embrace the movement.

I do have now a good amount of followers but everything is so impermanent that I don’t take anything for granted.

On role models.

I don’t have any. I always loved the idea of a platform where I can share what I think is relevant now. My followers on Facebook and Instagram gave me the responsibility to be think forward and challenge the conventions.

On the most stylish person he knows.

I love Punks. They are really fascinating and I love the social aspect of the movement. Fashion is too often disconnected and self-centered. Punks are a response to a society evolution. I respect tremendously them for their commitment. Beyond what everybody thinks is cool, there is an ideology.

On trends.

Sportswear is fascinating and might become a bigger source of inspiration.

On America versus the world.

I moved [to America] for personal reasons actually. But I do like how menswear is getting more and more attention. Brands are finally getting younger generations and offering more options to men. Europe, where things have always been better than the USA, is not as reactive now but offers in general more creativity, mostly because of the different cultures. America is where you learn the business side. That’s priceless.

the ninth.

Each delivery is unique, as is each customer. Such as in the Third Arrondissement. There’s the elderly Francesca with cataracts and her dog Javier. In the Fifth, there’s Alex, who is never not cooking. In the Fifteenth, there’s that house full of artists and plumbers, always spending their pay in two days on exotic nights and sausages. And there’s Dougie in the Ninth, Roberto’s favorite errand, who once chased off an ex-boyfriend with a nunchuku. Roberto would criss-cross the city, always on call, with his trademark white helmet and knapsack, astride his buzzing steed, sometimes visiting the same client several times in a week, sometimes not seeing a client for months, but always it was an interesting affair, each transaction a miniature drama, a miniature practice of capitalism, a miniature nightmare of logistics.

Today, Roberto’s moped took him to a part of Paris who would have rather avoided. It was here in Montemartre that he had had his closest call with the uniformed services, and since that day he had shifted his operation such that it was now entirely through go-betweens. But when his phone buzzed awake that morning and Roberto saw the offer, he scooted out the door, his heart in his pocket.

Roberto wasn’t sure why this was, but he always parked in the same parking spot in Montemarte, a little corner across from a toy store and a magazine shop. No matter the crowds or the traffic, the spot would be open to him, as if reserved just for low lives.

interview: Jason Jean of Citizen Couture.


A brief picking of the mind of Jason Jean, friend and photographer behind Citizen Couture.

On what draws him to the medium.

I sketched when I was younger but set aside the passion to pursue a business degree in college.  Photography had always been in my interest and became a different outlet of re-exploring my creative side. 

On what makes an interesting subject.

People ask me this many times, but I’m not exactly sure.  I believe it’s a person’s confidence and comfort.  The perfect backdrop and light always help set the mood too. 

On his photography style.

Simple portraiture.  Natural lighting and backdrop are a huge factor in my style, so I’m always scouting and keeping mental notes for potential locations.

On the personal style of street photographers. 

My personal style is very simple and comfortable.  You will find me in T-shirts most of the time, although I do enjoy investing in staple pieces. I’ve been getting into some pieces from Sandro lately.

I don’t find it necessary for street photographers to dress well themselves.  Some, like myself, are observers who enjoy capturing people and moments.  I don’t like to draw attention to myself and prefer dressing comfortable enough to move around quickly with a camera.

A tip for new photographers.

I believe one of the biggest mistake new photographers make is relying on “zooming out” when photographing a full portraiture up close.  Unless it’s photographed at a certain level, it typically leads to distortion, and possibly makes the subject very unflattering. 

On gear.

Somewhat important – it depends on what and where you’re shooting.  Camera body and lenses are used in variations, depending on your type of photography and style.  I like looking for cameras bodies with high frames per second to make capture moments and lenses with larger apertures for sharpness and good depth of field.

On “making it” in “the biz”.

The level of “making it” is interpreted differently by each person.  My work is continuously a work in progress and I try not to justify if I’ve “made it” or not.  I’m simply glad that I can pursue something I enjoy.

On role models.

No particular role models at the moment.  Part of the job requires meeting various people.  I’m intrigued with the sense of beauty, style, and/or talent that each possess.  Perhaps, because of the various people I meet, they each have certain characteristics or talents that I look up to.

On the most stylish person he knows.

I can’t pinpoint one person.  I think everyone has a way of interpreting his or her own style and while fashion is quite subjective, I appreciate how broad it can be.  I love how one person can pull off contemporary pieces and another in vintage pieces.  Or how one person may focus on color/patters, and another will focus on shape.

On international style. And New York.

I do see different styles going from country to country, but sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate each one when you’re at an event with attendants from various cities and countries.  Besides the fact that I reside in New York, I find NYC to be a fashion hub and a place to observe style.  With the constant flow of people traveling to NYC, it’s easy to notice the variety of style.

On his passion with cycling.

In bike friendly cities, bicycles become an important mode of transportation and lifestyle.  Like any reason why we buy certain clothes and accessories; the neighborhoods we choose the live; and the décor we buy for our homes, the bicycle we choose to ride becomes a part of who we are.

adventures in pergatory aka a Target store in Queens

I had spent a good wedge of the morning already sitting staring at my computer for a few hours waiting for the Neiman/Target collabo page to reload, transubstantiated from an immersive but teasing advertisement of the collection to a red blooded, American, God-fearing e-commerce site like the Federalists would have always feared. Alas, after two hours and several nagging cals to customer service, I gave up and went reluctantly to bed.

I dreamt of wool blazers and knit hats and funky skateboards that were just out of my reach, always disappearing down and around some red-painted hall for most of the night.

The alarm clocked wretched me out of my hypersleep just before 6:00am. I lurched awake and fired up my devices. There: the promised land. For such a slick Flash-y landing page, the e-commerce experience was strangely muted. I was annoyed that there was no sizing information for most of the pieces, and had to buy a few sizes just for insurance’s sake. I felt the digital equivalent of the sample sale-goer: items finally in hand, finish line/checkout line within eye line and yet…maybe I should stick around and see if I’ve missed anything?

Nah. A few hundred bucks and a few dozen keystrokes later and my prize was in hand and I slipped back to sleep.

***

Not that that didn’t stop me from waking up later and to check out the analog experience.

The Elmhurt Target is typical of a Target X New York City “collabo”. It’s fitted inside a large mall experience, along with other behemoths like a Best Buys and a Mrs. Fields. It’s massive, and yet it pulls a classic sci-fi trick in that the inside seems magnitudes larger than even the bulbous exterior suggests. It takes up several floors, connected by toothy escalators that, through an unholy feat of engineering, can even transport shopping carts. It’s fun to watch suburbanites marvel at the cart-elevating contraption. First world, indeed.

I stop a mohawked sales associate* in the menswear department: Where’s the Neiman stuff? He gave me a befuddled answer and sent me to the fitting room attendant, who sent me “towards the back” of the store, where another associate sent me to the menswear department. It’s truly a testament to Target’s material arsenal that its stores are SO FULL of stuff that an entire collection of said stuff can hide and not be easily detected. It was like being on materialism safari.

May I also add that, like most Target stores I’ve been to which are in large urban environments, most of the people were of color. It was Coming To America except everyone was looking for the perfect toaster or sweater set rather than his Queen. Occasionally you ran into a white person and you half felt like following her as if she perhaps knew about some really secretive speakeasy that was behind the children’s shoes department.

Back to the hunt. I ultimately found the collection, in it’s entirely, next to a section that was, well, pregnant with meaning.

Almost immediately other “fashion-y” people emerged. The drawn Asian woman wearing all black drapey clothes. The young #menswear acolyte. The Japanese couple wearing matching bucket hats. The PR lady tweeting on her iPhone. And there, hung amongst the metallic display trees that populate most of the pastures of Target clothing sections, was the fruit I was after.

 

A review. The material is all wool, and the construction seems decent enough. Even if it weren’t for the vaunted designer brand, it would still be a worthwhile piece at the price. There are functioning buttonholes, which I’m a bit surprised about, but perhaps suggesting that the diligent workers over in Southeast Asia have mastered a feature which once was an indicator of rarified quality.

I wouldn’t fault any jacket nowadays that had just plain ol’ buttons on the sleeves, what with alterations and all. The construction sprites seemed to snip at the details, however — the buttons are hollow and feel cheap, and the tags on the inside are a bit cartoonish. The jacket overall is a sketch of a real Thom Browne jacket, albiet a clever and vibrant sketch. There’s even the coveted back grograin tag.

 

The rest of the collection seems kitschy, but not to a fault. The Altuzarra shakers gleam a gilded gleam. The Wu girl’s dresses hang red and plump like strawberries. The Band of Outsiders “Best Friends” hats are cuddly. The only thing I turned at was the Alice and Olivia bike. I felt if I picked at the floral print with a nail I’d reveal a ‘Huffy’ decal underneath.

Satisfied that I would be satisfied with the items trucking their way towards me, I scooted back down the escalators, wincing for just a moment at the Mrs. Fields (another time, my dear) and rattled my back on the R/E line. I even managed to stay awake.

*May it be known that all of the sales associates I spoke to were polite and well-meaning, if a little brief.